A spectacular viewpoint near Luxmore Hut on the hike from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut on the Kepler Track

Kepler Track Day Hike | Brod Bay To Luxmore Hut

Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s 10 “Great Walks”, is a 3-4 day rainforest and sub-alpine loop track in the Southern Alps of Te Anau. This spectacular hike treks from the beach of Te Anau Lake, up through fern-filled forest to some impressive limestone bluffs before reaching a golden, grassy summit overlooking the lakes and the mountains. After this, it continues along a razor-like ridge with more stunning views, before heading down and around back to Te Anau. If you don’t have time for the full hike on the Kepler Track, you can still appreciate this trek with a day hike from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut, which is considered one of the most beautiful sections of track and offers spectacular views.


Kepler Track

The entire Kepler Track loop is 37 miles (60 km), usually taking 3-4 days with 3 huts and 2 campsites that you can book through doc.govt.nz.

The track is considered intermediate as there are steep areas, particularly the section from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut, which is at an elevation of 4,829’ (1,472 m).

Kepler Track Elevation

The track starts near the Kepler Track car park in Te Anau. You can, however, skip the first 3.7 miles (6 km) of mostly flat track by taking a water taxi to the beach at Brod Bay and starting the track up to Luxmore Hut there (see elevation profile above left). This day hike is 4.9 miles (8 km) with 2,808’ (855 m) of elevation gain.

This is what I did. It was the first time I’ve take a water taxi to hike a trail from the beach, through a forest, then up to a summit. Pretty cool!

Kepler Track Brod Bay To Luxmore Hut

As noted above, you can either drive to the Kepler Park car park, where you can leave your car, or take a water taxi to Brod Bay.

Water Taxi

The Fiordland Water Taxi leaves from Lakefront Drive at the edge of Te Anau Lake at 8:30 and 9:30 AM (and sometimes 10:30). It sits on the beach near the town of Te Anau. Once you’re in the water taxi, it only takes about 15 minutes to cross the lake and arrive at Brod Bay.

The cost as of March 2024 is 25 NZ Dollars or about $15.00 each way. You can pay on the water taxi with credit card. If it’s peak season, you may want to show up the day prior to make sure there will be space and pre-arrange your ride. I showed up at 8:30 and requested the 9:30 ride and had no problem, but it was a rainy morning.

Estimate in advance how long the trek will take you. The doc.govt.nz website suggests around 8 hours with return, but this is pretty generous. I usually find I hike in much less time than the New Zealand suggested times. My hike on this trip was less than 5 hours, including my hour long lunch at the hut and return.

Use your estimated trek time to select your start time, as 4:30 PM is the set water taxi return time. If you start at 8:30, you’ll have 8 hours to hike, 9:30 gives you 7 hours, and 10:30 gives you 6 hours.

Brod Bay

Brod Bay is a beach area on Te Anau Lake, surrounded by beech forest and hills. If taking the water taxi, they will drop you near the start of the trial. Just walk into the forest from the beach where you are let off and you will find the sign for the trial head. There are also restroom facilities here if you want to make a stop before the hike up.

The water taxi drops a small ladder on the beach, so you can climb off without getting your feet wet.

The beach of Brod Bay on the Kepler Track hike from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut
Brod Bay

Beech Forest

The beech forest is dense with greenery, full of giant ferns and moss-covered trees. The forest is so dense that if it’s raining, like the day I was here, you’re partly protected by the canopy of greenery.

As you enter the forest, you will see the sign to Luxmore Hut and the Iris Burn Hut beyond it. It states the time as 4.5 hours to the Luxmore, which, as noted above, is pretty generous, and 10 hours to Iris Burn. I made it to the Luxmore Hut in about 2 hours, although was walking fast due to the rain.

The trail here is well groomed. I was surprised that it was in good condition as it had rained the entire day prior and was still raining heavily the morning of my hike.

Hiking through the Beech Forest on Kepler Track from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut
Beech Forest

You will find yourself stopping often to take photos here…

Limestone Bluff

As you continue to climb up the hill to Luxmore Hut, you’ll encounter a large limestone bluff. You walk along the base of it for a while, admiring the change in landscape after the dense forest.

The limestone bluff on the Kepler Track hike from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut
Limestone Bluff

There are also a couple areas near here with wooden walkways and bridges to help traverse challenging ground areas.


As you continue to climb, the trail has more and more switchbacks, shifting from one side of the hill to the other with glimpses of “views to come” through the trees.

View through the trees on the Kepler Track from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut.


Summit

As you start to crest the summit that Luxmore Hut sits on, you will break out of the forest to a tussock-covered landscape. There’s a sign at the end of the forest here that says the hut is a 45-minute walk away.

The trail here is less groomed as you walk through a worn walkway carved out between the golden grasses. If it’s been raining, you will encounter muddy puddles here.

There’s still a small amount of elevation, before you start to see the panoramic views of the south fiord of Te Anau Lake, Lake Manapouri, and the Murchison Mountains in the distance.

A spectacular viewpoint near Luxmore Hut on the hike from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut on the Kepler Track

As this summit is exposed, it can be very windy. And if it’s rainy, the wind and the rain together can be intense. For my hike, the day was just staring to clear up, but I was still being pelted by wind a rain here.

There are a few small lakes, or bogs here. And some areas have boarded walkways to protect the fauna and keep you dry in wet weather.


Luxmore Hut

After traversing the tussock-covered hilltop, the trail will turn to the left. From here, you’ll start to see Luxmore Hut.

If you were doing the entire Kepler Track and staying the night here, there is a fee. But for day hiking, you can use the kitchen area and restrooms here for free.

There are gas stoves and a water source, but you need to bring your own pots and pans and cutlery to cook. They also recommend boiling the water here before drinking it. Although you can make something more elaborate, it’s ideal to bring a pre-made picnic if you are just here for a day hike.

There are several tables set up where you can eat with a meet other hikers. If you have wet gear, there’s an area to hang jackets and shirts here. No shoes are allowed inside the hut, so bring slippers to walk around the kitchen and dining area.

Luxmore Cave

There is also a cave near the hut, Luxmore Cave, if you want to see the inside of the mountain here. It’s a short walk from Luxmore Hut, about 20-minutes with return. There are signs from the hut to the cave, making it easy to follow the trail.

It’s best to go with someone else, as the cave is very dark, and definitely bring a torch. There are multiple passages to explore and stalagmites and stalactites.

I did not do this, as I was literally soaking wet from my hike in the rain and was too chilled to venture into the cave.

Water Taxi Return

The Fiordland Water taxi picks up at 4:30 PM, which gives you plenty of time to complete the hike, have lunch in Luxmore Hut, explore Luxmore Cave, and get back down to the beach.

The end of the trail from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut On Kepler Track
End Of Trail At Brod Bay

There are some logs to sit in while you wait, but if you want, you can also bring a blanket to lay on the beach for a while. If the weather is nice, bring a bathing suit to swim while you wait. You can change in the forest or in the restrooms.

If there are too many people to fit on the water taxi, it will keep coming back until it has picked up everyone that paid for a return ticket in the morning.

They, however, will not wait for you if you are not there, so be on time!

Best Time To Hike Kepler Track

The best time to hike Kepler Track is summer, generally December to February. This is when the temperatures are most comfortable and the days are the longest.

There can be, however, quite a bit of rain in the summer months in this area, so it’s best to be prepared and dress appropriately.

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How To Prepare For A Kepler Track Day Hike

It’s best to dress in layers, as it can be warm in the sunshine, yet chilly cold at the summit. There’s also a high probability of rain, so bring a good quality raincoat. Gators to keep your feet dry are also a good idea.

Sunscreen and a hat is also a good idea for the sun. If you plan to go into Luxmore Cave, make sure to bring a torch with fresh batteries.

Bring plenty of water and any snacks or lunch you want for the hike. There is water at the Luxmore Hut. The government website advises boiling it first though. This requires bringing your own pan to boil it in.

If you plan to swim in Te Anau Lake, bring a bathing suit and towel. Or just a towel to lay on the sand.

I did not use the drop toilets by Brod Bay, but if they are like most New Zealand Track toilets, you need to bring your own toilet paper (and hand sanitizer).

Also, always remember to check the doc.govt.nz website for any warnings or closures, as well as the weather.

What Would I Do Differently?

If I was planning this again, I would take the earliest water taxi and hike to the true summit of the Kepler Track, up beyond Luxmore Hut. I would have loved to hike along the razor ridge.

The images of the razor-like ridge with the views on either side look spectacular.

Where To Stay In Te Anau

Budget

  • I stayed at Te Anau LakeView Holiday Park & Motels. This is a great place for solo travelers, families, and those looking for a place to camp of park their camper. There’s a shared kitchen and laundry facilities. The staff is also very friendly and helpful.
  • Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers sits across from the lake and is a 5-minute walk to town. They offer dorms and private rooms, some with lake views. They also have a movie room, a BBQ, and laundry facilities.

Affordable

  • Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments sits on the lake a short walk from town. They offer studies and apartments with mountain and lake views, as well as rooms with disability access.
  • Lakefront Lodge sits right on the lake, a 5-minute walk to town. They offer studios and apartments with kitchenettes, a shared BBQ, and laundry facilities. Some room have partial lake views.

Moderate

  • Radfords On The Lake also sits on the lake and offers studios and suites with mountain and lake views a 3-minute walk to town. They also offer disability access rooms.

Want More Of New Zealand?

For other great hikes in New Zealand, see my posts on Routeburn Track, Tongariro Abel Tasman Coastal Track, and Cape Brett Walkway. Routeburn, Tongariro, and Abel Tasman are 3 of New Zealand’s 10 “Great Walks”. There’s also Key Summit Track, an optional track on Routeburn. Or just another great day hike in the Fiordlands.

Mesmerizing Milford Sound, sometimes referred to as the 8th wonder of the world, is just about a 2 hour drive from Te Anau. If visiting, it’s ideal to make sure to make all the little, scenic detours along the way from Queesntown To Te Anau and Te Anau to Milford Sound. These drives are all about the journey…

Other top spots on the South Island, include stunning Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world, Franz Josef Glacier, and Wānaka.

For wine lovers, stop in Marlborough to taste some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. There are many great wineries to stop at and enjoy great food and wine. Many also now offer beer as well.

To help plan your trip, see my New Zealand Travel Guide. It covers the top destinations above, how to get around, when to visit, safety tips, and more.

Safe Travels!

Julie

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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